Certainly the biggest break I've ever taken from blogging – nearly the whole month of April! It was an insanely busy month, to put it lightly, and I have to say I'm glad it's behind me. Lots of great experiences, and fun little everyday "nothing" events, but overall, a lot of stress, travel, and in general, interruptions to my routine that I selfishly, like to keep just that – routine.
So what's been going on here? The better question is what HASN'T been going on! To recap…
The first two weeks of the month were spent solely on work for my "day job". The company I work for is about 600 employees and about 1/3 of them attend a Leadership Meeting every year in April. The meeting's coordination largely falls to myself and my two coworkers. Let me just say this – I have a new respect for full time event planners. There are SO many things one just doesn't think of when attending a formal event for large groups of people. The littlest details have to be brainstormed ahead of time, problems have to be anticipated before they even happen, and solutions must be devised. I certainly learned a lot about menu planning, traffic flow, agenda planning, how many bars to have available (at all times! ha!) and the list goes on and on. One of my favorite parts was listening to our guest speaker, General Richard Myers, a four star general and THE military man of the hour during 9/11. He was literally one of the first people to speak with President Bush, and was active in the months and years that followed. Very amazing man, and it was one of those times when you just feel incredibly proud to be from the USA. Another highlight of the meeting was designing all of the physical materials handed out at the meeting – from name badges to branded notebooks, posters and directional signage throughout the hotel to guide attendees to various parts of the event. It was a lot of work, but I'm very fortunate to work for such a wonderful company that recognizes contribution…I even came home to a thank you note and a gift certificate for a massage. 🙂
With no rest for the weary, I headed back to Kansas City the following week, but this time for the NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association) annual conference. For two days, I was able to glean some advice, both personal and professional, from a variety of speakers. From a marketing perspective, my favorite session was by far a presentation done by Anheuser-Busch on branding and creating sub-brands without losing your overall corporate identity. Marketing has always been one of those things that just sucks me in – I am so intrigued by what sorts of prompts cause a person to take action – whether it's to purchase an item, become a facebook fan, tell a friend, etc. In all, a very good experience, and again, very lucky to have an employer and boss who see the value in me taking these trips and receiving these experiences.
Speaking of experiences…I certainly felt it was time for a "brain break" from all of this marketing education…so I went and exercised the other side of the spectrum – consumerism! It's probably a good thing we don't have a Lucy store here in Des Moines…I would be broke! Let's just say I went in with a budget number in my head…and walked out having doubled it. Oops. 🙂 I highly recommend their clothes – they are a bit higher in price range, but the quality is unparalleled. Their two big areas are running and yoga – so if you do either or both, or just really want some comfy and super cute new threads, check them out!
It's all justified, because my cute new running clothes will come in quite handy as I train for my first 5k in June. Yes, I've been convinced to run Dam 2 Dam here in Des Moines on June 6. That's 3.1 miles total – and I can comfortably run about 2…so either I'm going to have to find a fierce looking dog to run behind me the whole time, or someone who can run alongside with a gun to my head, so I can finish that 3rd mile without quitting. :)
So what else is new? Something rather freaky! I had my wisdom teeth out more than ten years ago – as a freshman in high school. I had all four out…plus a tiny fifth "extra" one they found floating around in my upper right jaw. Strange, right? I never gave another thought to my wisdom teeth – grateful to have the whole terrible experience behind me. So I went in for my six month cleaning at the dentist (note to self, schedule these types of things during less busy months…just adds fuel to the fire!). Upon examining my x-rays, my dentist proceeded to show me that I have yet a sixth, (SIXTH, people!) wisdom tooth – again, an undersized "mini" version, this time floating around in my upper left gum. Seriously? Whoever handed out teeth the day I got mine really needs to learn how to count. Anyway, I made it VERY clear to my dentist that it better just set up camp because I am NOT doing the extraction thing again. I think he thought I was being a little dramatic at first, but by the end I think he got it. Not. Doing. That. Again.
So are you poor readers bored yet? Because like it or not, there are more stories from April!
Not exactly an earth-shattering event, but Page and I did manage to schedule a date night during this chaotic month to see, what else, Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. It was VERY funny – as in laugh-out-loud-in-the-theater funny. Both comedians are pure geniuses and you have to wonder how many of their lines were actually written for them, and how many were simply improvised. Is it on my top ten of all time movie list? Probably not. But if you want a good laugh (or ten!) check this out – whether or not you're on a date makes little difference.
Did I mention on top of everything else work-related this month, we decided to move our office location? An opportunity presented itself and we jumped – from a basement bedroom office in my boss' home, to an office suite – we have an actual separate conference room now – big dogs! 🙂 The space is much needed and it's so wonderful to have the flexibility of multiple spaces to go and work. Here's a very early peek at the room that my office will be in (and yes, there will be furniture when all is said and done!).
A much-needed break in the chaos mid-month came when my coworker asked me to go to the April session of a women's lecture series hosted in downtown Des Moines. I have to admit – it felt like it was the last thing I had time to go do, but am SO glad I went after all. The speaker was Rita Moreno – you may remember her as "Anita" in West Side Story. Very inspiring and glamorous lady – very emotional and real, but also
quite witty with very entertaining stories to tell about her life. The
whole "lecture" was a mix of memorable song performances from her
career, and candid talks about life, love and happiness and as a Puerto
Rican child with a Spanish-only-speaking mother, moving to NYC, to
becoming a Hollywood starlet with a breakthrough role in West Side
Story. She shocked her audience by starting a story about her mid
20s…"Ladies…I got to go on a date with…Elvis. Yes, Elvis. You may
touch me later," (as she held out her hand to the crowd in a display of
mock-fabulousness). She later went on to admit that yes, it SOUNDED like a
big deal, but that he was actually shockingly dull. Haha. In the end,
she married the love of her life – a non-celebrity charming man who
coincidentally was running the lights during her sing-and-speak
performance. She asked him to come out on stage and it was so touching
to see their relationship "live" – this is clearly a woman who has
learned the curve of career, but more importantly, living a life full of
love. I couldn't help but think of my own fabulous glamour girl of a
grandma throughout this performance. G, you would have LOVED this lady –
from her amazing jewelry (that I could see from forty rows up!) to her
funny stories about the "It" Hollywood hunks of her time.
I must be incredibly self-absorbed if I've gotten this far with very little mention of the other half of the household. Perhaps it's because I don't see that much of him – true, I have been out of town a good bit – but coincidentally, he spends much time in the location you see above – the new wheels. Parked in the garage, installing some new upgrade gadget or another, or testing the speedometer's, um, "accuracy" on some back road, this dude and Danny are inseparable. And that pretty much sums up Page's whole month of April in a nutshell. 🙂 Well, that and web business. It's been an exciting month for Page Smith Design – he is simultaneously working with three clients right now on websites. I always think it's so fun that he is never tied to any one or two industries – the diversity of business is huge and it's fun to learn about them as Page works with them. Right now in the wings is a roofing company, a nutritionist, and some additions to an HR/payroll company's site. Way to go, Page!
As for me, I've had to scale back a bit on Liz Ink & Paper projects this month. It was harder than I thought to say "no" to some lovely and loyal clients who approached me with different requests, but I am so glad I set some limits for myself. My work would not have been up to par, and I personally would have lost my mind with any more "to do"s! I did get to exercise a little design muscle while moving forward on my best friend, Laura's bridal shower, coming up next month. So very excited about this orange/white summery, preppy color scheme!
And I suppose that brings us up to present day. Phew, huh?! It's so nice to be winding down this month, and I am looking forward to a fresh start in May, aiming for a calmer, more peaceful few weeks. I hit a milestone tonight – I actually had both the TIME and the ENERGY (simultaneously!) to take on making a home-cooked dinner. Halleluiah. I do feel so much better when I can prepare my own food and cooking really does act as some sort of soothing therapy for me.
So there you have it – a recap (albeit VERY long!) of the month. It's kind of amazing to look back at life one big chunk at a time and see just how much really does go on. I will definitely be getting back into a regular blogging routine – these essay-long posts are just too much work! 🙂
Happy (early) May to all!